Last month I had a couple of trips that took me away from the girls. I prepared the house and my husband for the trip by making sure everything was planned, shopped for, and meals were made and frozen. I actually looked forward to the trips. There would be some “me” time blended in with work. As I sailed through the TSA checkpoint at the airport without a stroller, diaper bag and wandering toddlers to hold me back, I relished the thought of sleeping in a quiet hotel room and the million other things I did BK (before kids). Wrong, wrong, wrong!!
I ended up coming home a day early simply because I didn’t want to spend that last free day alone and far from home. What can I say? I love my kids and wanted to be there when they woke up Monday morning. I hope in a few years time I’ll remember that I did these kinds of things because I wanted to and not because I expected something in return, even if that something is “appreciation”. I’m starting to walk in my mother’s footsteps and I see now how easy it could be to feel un- or under-appreciated by your children. I’ll admit it, I wasn’t as appreciative of my mom when I was younger as I should have been. I took for granted many of the wonderful little things she did for our family. I think in the back of my mom’s mind she was keeping track of all the times we didn’t say thank you and it really pained her. She felt like her family was simply taking advantage of her, we that took all she had to offer but didn’t give equally in return.
As a mom now I can say I don’t blame her, it is very easy to look for validation, get hurt feelings, feel bitter even, when you’re not appreciated in an outwardly demonstrative way. It’s easy to forget that being a mom is a thankless job. And how do you balance that with the fact that not getting thanked hurts sometimes? So I continue to remind myself that these things that I do for my family I do because I chose to and not because I want a thank you. Sometimes it is so hard not to take this personally, but when I take a step back (a grown-up time out!) I know that seeing my children’s faces light up with smiles when they see me is all the thanks I need. I wouldn’t change my crazy life for anything in the world!
As I’ve grown into adulthood my relationship with my mother has transformed and improved so much. I know now how much hearing a simple thank you means and I try to tell her often. At Sprout we talk a lot about how kindness counts in small and big ways. Saying thank you and truly being appreciative may seem like a small, insignificant act of kindness, but it is one whose impact can last a lifetime. So, let’s lead by example. Let’s call our moms and dads today and say a very heartfelt Thank You. And then let’s sit down and talk with our kids tonight about the value of one small act of kindness.